Authentic Appreciation

We should give more genuine compliments

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Authentic Appreciation

Your hair looks great. You’re so nice. Your dress is pretty. You’re amazing at basketball. Your shoes are dope. You’re so funny.

There are an infinite number of compliments we can give — an infinite number of ways to communicate appreciation, to point out what you like or to voice your support — most of which require no more than a few words.

But for some reason, we don’t compliment others enough, especially not in meaningful ways. Undeniably, nobody is perfect. But there is so much to appreciate in every person we interact with.

Our chemistry seat partner has an especially bright smile. Our best friend works incredibly hard. Our parents never fail to look on the positive side of every situation.

No matter how odd or insignificant they may be, there are special strengths in everyone that we often overlook.

And if we do notice, we don’t acknowledge it. Maybe we admire the fact that our chemistry seat partner can make anyone smile when they’re sad. Maybe we have always respected our best friend for their relentless work ethic. But what does it matter if we don’t let them know?

Giving compliments is as simple as understanding what you appreciate about the people around you — and communicating it.

Still, as a whole, we don’t compliment others enough. In a survey of 360 MVHS students, 60% of students give compliments only occasionally.

For 40% of the students, giving compliments can seem too awkward or uncomfortable. For 32%, complimenting is just not an action that jumps to our mind. And 28% of students just don’t have anything nice to say. A lot of the times, we tend to assume that the people we love already know we appreciate them, forgetting that even they deserve to be formally recognized.

And even if we do compliment others, just giving a compliment isn’t enough; our compliments mean nothing if they aren’t genuine. Sure, it may be nice to tell someone they’re smart or pretty. But these are meaningless compliments. They require no real thought and can be applied to practically anyone.

Tell people specifically what you actually appreciate about them, tell them what you respect about them, tell them how they make your life better. It may feel uncomfortable or awkward to be so candid, but these types of raw comments are the ones that actually stick with people. Mark Twain once said he could “live for two months on a good compliment.” And he’s not alone. Compliments that are genuine can actually make a difference in how someone feels about themselves.

In a story published in “Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul,” Helen P. Mrosla wrote about an experience in which she told each student in a class to write the nicest thing they could think of for every other person in the class. After compiling each student’s list of compliments, Mrosla handed them out and watched as the “entire class [gradually began] smiling,” “happy with themselves and one another again.”

Mrosla thought that was the end of the exercise, until years later, when she was called to attend the funeral for one of her students, Mark, after he died in the line of duty. At the funeral, Mark’s parents walked up to Mrosla and pulled out “two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.” Mark’s parents informed Mrosla that “they found the paper on Mark when he was killed” and told her Mark truly treasured the list of compliments. At the funeral, several more students came up to Mrosla, showing her their lists or informing her about the various places they kept the list, such as in a wedding album or on their dresser. One student even claimed, “I think we all saved our lists.”

Mark’s story is just one example of how powerful compliments can be and how little they require from each person.

We choose to surround ourselves with people we appreciate. Because we respect them. Because we like them. Especially for the people we know the best, like our family and friends, we should strive to make every compliment as heartfelt as possible.

Granted, there’s no recipe for how to give a genuine compliment. But it’s something instantly recognizable by both the giver and the receiver. From the countless positive remarks we give and receive daily, whether it be telling someone their hair looks nice or their jokes are funny, it’s amazing how few of these actually mean anything. According to a survey of 359 students, 52% of students believe that only a handful of the comments they receive are actually meaningful and memorable. Take some time to reflect on the compliments you’ve received. Which ones can you still remember? Which ones actually made you feel better about yourself? Try to emulate comments like these.

Sure, we can give compliments like ‘you’re so smart’ or ‘you’re so pretty’, but we should find something we appreciate about people beyond their perfect A’s or their symmetrical face. A specific compliment shows true thought and appreciation. That’s not to say that every compliment you give must be incredibly deep; they can be a simple, “Mom, dinner was great today; thank you so much.” But being genuine is something that cannot be faked.

According to Psychological Sciences Professor Nick Haslam from the University of Melbourne,
“receiving a compliment can enhance performance, social interaction, positivity in relationships and increase general happiness … Giving a compliment can make interactions more enjoyable, bring out reciprocating warmth from others and create a favorable impression in their eyes.” On the other hand, “faux compliments,” or compliments that aren’t genuine, “are likely to have the opposite effect [as] people who receive them will often feel they are insincere and not well-intentioned, and that undermines any positive effects they might feel about being praised.”

Furthermore, when we receive a meaningful compliment, we need to respond in an equally genuine way. Undeniably, different people receive compliments in different ways, whether it be accepting the compliment graciously, denying the compliment to appear modest or complimenting the person in return. Even culturally, there are various social norms when giving and receiving compliments. For example, it is considered rude and arrogant to accept compliments in certain Asian cultures without first denying them.

No matter how you’ve grown accustomed to accepting compliments, if you hear a compliment that truly stands out and makes you feel special, let the person know. Smile, thank them and tell them how happy the compliment made you feel. Or politely decline the compliment, but tell them you appreciate the kind remark nonetheless. Whatever it is, it’s not easy to openly voice a compliment, and it’s important we show the giver the respect and appreciation they have shown us.

At the end of the day, a genuine compliment doesn’t require an outstanding effort or a special occasion. A few words can go a long way in terms of spreading positivity, happiness and appreciation. So the next time you’re hanging out with a friend, around the family dinner table or getting some help from a teacher, don’t be afraid to voice your appreciation for the people in your life.

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Your hair looks great. You’re so nice. Your dress is pretty. You’re amazing at basketball. Your shoes are dope. You’re so funny.

There are an infinite number of compliments we can give to somebody — an infinite number of ways to communicate appreciation, to point out what you like or to voice your support — most of which require no more than a few words.

But for some reason, we don’t compliment others enough, especially not in meaningful ways. Undeniably, nobody is perfect. But there is so much to appreciate in every person we interact with.

Our chemistry seat partner has an especially bright smile. Our best friend works incredibly hard. Our parents never fail to look on the positive side of every situation.

No matter how odd or insignificant they may be, there are special strengths in everyone that we often overlook.

And if we do notice, we don’t acknowledge it. Maybe we admire the fact that our chemistry seat partner can make anyone smile when they’re sad. Maybe we have always respected our best friend for their relentless work ethic. But what does it matter if we don’t let them know?

Giving compliments is as simple as understanding what you appreciate about the people around you — and communicating it.

Still, as a whole, we don’t compliment others enough. Add statistics.

For many people, giving compliments can seem too awkward or uncomfortable. For many others, complimenting is just not an action that jumps to our mind. A lot of the times, we tend to assume that the people we love already know we appreciate them, forgetting that even they deserve to be formally recognized.

And even if we do compliment others, just giving a compliment isn’t enough; our compliments mean nothing if they aren’t genuine. Sure, it may be nice to tell someone they’re smart or tell someone they’re pretty. But these are meaningless compliments. They require no real thought, andthey can be applied to practically anyone and most people have heard them before.

Tell people specifically what you actually appreciate about them, tell them what you respect about them, tell them how they make your life better. It may feel uncomfortable or awkward to be so candid, but these types of raw comments are the ones that actually stick with people. Mark Twain once said he could “live for two months on a good compliment.” And he’s not alone. Compliments that are genuine can actually make a difference in how someone feels about themselves.

In a story published in “Chicken Soup for the Teacher’s Soul,”, Helen P. Mrosla wrote about an experience in which she told each student in a class to write the nicest thing they could think of for every other person in the class. After compiling each student’s list of compliments, Mrosla handed them out and watched as the “entire class [gradually began] smiling,” “happy with themselves and one another again.”

Mrosla thought that was the end of the exercise, until years later, when she was called to attend the funeral for one of her students, Mark, after he died in the line of duty. At the funeral, Mark’s parents walked up to Mrosla and pulled out “two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times.” Mark’s parents informed Mrosla that “they found the paper on Mark when he was killed” and told her Mark truly treasured the list of compliments. At the funeral, several more students came up to Mrosla, showing her their lists or informing her about the various places they kept the list, such as in a wedding album or on their dresser. One student even claimed, “I think we all saved our lists.”

Mark’s story is just one example of how powerful compliments can be and how little they require from each person.

We choose to surround ourselves with peoplethe people around us because we appreciate them. Because we respect them. Because we like them. Especially for the people we know the best, like our family and friends, we should strive to make every compliment as heartfelt as possible.

Granted, there’s no recipe for how to give a genuine compliment. But it’s something instantly recognizable by both the giver and the receiver. From the countless positive remarks we give and receive daily, whether it be telling someone their hair looks nice or their jokes are funny, it’s amazing how few of these actually mean anything. Take some time to reflect on the compliments you’ve received. Which ones can you still remember? Which ones actually made you feel better about yourself? Try to emulate comments like these.

Simply telling someone they’re smart or cute doesn’t cut it. And it’s not that we should never give compliments like this, but we should find something we appreciate about people beyond their perfect A’s or their symmetrical face. A specific compliment shows true thought and appreciation. That’s not to say that every compliments you give must be incredibly deep; they can be a simple, “Mom, dinner was great today; thank you so much.” But being genuine is something that cannot be faked.

According to Psychological Sciences Professor Nick Haslam, from the University of Melbourne,
“receiving a compliment can enhance performance, social interaction, positivity in relationships and increase general happiness.” Giving a compliment can make interactions more enjoyable, bring out reciprocating warmth from others and create a favourable impression in their eyes.” On the other hand, “faux compliments,” or compliments that aren’t genuine, “are likely to have the opposite effect [as] people who receive them will often feel they are insincere and not well-intentioned, and that undermines any positive effects they might feel about being praised.”

Furthermore, when we receive a meaningful compliment, we need to respond in an equally genuine way. Granted, different people receive compliments in different ways, whether it accepting the compliment graciously, denying the compliment to appear modest or complimenting the person in return. Even culturally, there are various social norms when giving and receiving compliments. (For example, it is considered rude and arrogant to accept compliments in certain Asian cultures without first denying them).

No matter how you’ve grown accustomed to accepting compliments, if you hear a compliment that truly stands out and makes you feel special, let the person know. Smile, thank them and tell them how happy the compliment made you feel. Or politely decline the compliment, but tell them you appreciate the kind remark nonetheless. Whatever it is, it’s not easy to openly voice a compliment, and it’s important we show the giver the respect and appreciation they have shown us.

At the end of the day, a genuine compliment doesn’t require an outstanding effort or a special occasion. A few words can go a long way in terms of spreading positivity, happiness and appreciation. So the next time you’re hanging out with a friend, around the family dinner table or getting some help from a teacher, don’t be afraid to voice your appreciation for the people in your life.